Wills and Estate Planning

What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?

Estate planning attorneys are helpful during the estate planning process and afterwards through the process of probate court. They understand the state and federal laws that will impact your estate.

Estate planning attorneys, also referred to as estate law attorneys or probate attorneys, are experienced and licensed law professionals with a thorough understanding of the state and federal laws that affect how your estate will be inventoried, valued, dispersed, and taxed after your death. In addition to educating you about the probate process, an estate planning attorney can assist you with the following tasks:

  • Creating a will
  • Designating your beneficiaries
  • Establishing durable power of attorney and medical durable power of attorney
  • Finding ways to reduce and avoid estate tax when possible
  • Finding ways to avoid the probate court process
  • Setting up any trusts you might need to protect your assets, both for your own benefit during your lifetime in the event of incapacity, and for the benefit of your beneficiaries after your death

Estate planning attorneys often charge a flat fee to help you craft binding legal documents such as wills and durable power of attorney, but for a premium they can also be employed on an hourly basis to help you maintain your estate, act on your behalf to handle disputes when called upon, and ensure that your will is carried out according to plan when required.

An estate planning attorney can also be called upon to guide anyone with power of attorney over a recently deceased person's estate through the process of probate court. In fact, a good estate planning attorney may be able to help you avoid probate court altogether, but that largely depends on the type of assets in the deceased's estate and how they are legally allowed to be transferred.

In the event that a beneficiary (or even an individual not designated as a beneficiary) announces that he or she plans to contest the will and sue the estate of a deceased family member or loved one that you also stand to benefit from, it might be in your best interest to consult an estate planning attorney immediately. Such lawsuits can quickly drain the estate's funds and leave all beneficiaries a little worse for the wear.

You may be surprised to learn that over 99% of estates will not owe any federal estate tax, according to a 2015 report by Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation. Only estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts valued at $5,430,000 or more are required to file, as of 2015. It is important to note that smaller estates that are exempt from federal estate tax will not necessarily be exempt from any state estate taxes.

If you have additional questions about the nuances of estate planning, creating a will or what is a living trust, be sure to consult the Protective Learning Center.

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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax‐related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit www.protective.com.

Companies and organizations linked from Learning Center articles have no affiliation with Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Estate Attorney

An estate planning attorney can help you with many different aspects of your estate. Everything from a will to setting up a trust, an estate attorney can be a valuable asset worth paying for. This article will help you understand a bit more about what an estate attorney does so that you can make a qualified decision as to whether or not one may be able to assist you with your estate planning needs. For more information, visit our learning center.

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